Howdy Friends, this blog is more of a letter to let you know where we all stand as of Fall 2015, and why I think it is important for musicians to check out this fall party, this mini-fest, this Hartford Boogie.
It’s easy, once you reach a goal, to become complacent. That’s how the hare lost the race. Okay, I’m dating myself here, but you remember, or at least you can Google, The Tortoise and the Hare, you know, where the cocky rabbit got all huffy with the turtle, challenged him to a race, got a little side-tracked with himself and lost to the lowly turtle? The turtle won? Remember the sequel, where the turtle tried to race the armadillo across the highway and both got flattened by a truck? The moral here is, if you don’t remember where you came from, you may never find your way back. The John Hartford Memorial Festival began as a party in honor and to preserve the memory of John Hartford. Key word being party. A party of musicians, many volunteers, several with direct John Hartford connections, a troupe of willing, talented volunteer workers, each with something unique to bring to the table, dedicated to making this party an event to be noticed. Assembled by John Hotze and Dan Dillman, the first year was a bust, but that’s not at all unusual, discouraging yes, but not a reason to call it quits. Read all about the history of the festival in the Morning Bugle archives, listed at the bottom of this page. To make a long story short, the fifth year was a milestone, record attendance and the realization that the desired capacity had been reached.
You see, after John Hotze partnered up with Tom Burkhart, these two like minded visionaries got busy recognizing the talent and will of the volunteers. We all learned from survey after survey, the power of social media, word of mouth, and low budget promo. We are there. We are you. You are us. The John Hartford Memorial Festival Family of Musicians and Music Lovers has been born and has become fruitful. Now we will ask you, the musician, the music lover, to grow the family. Bring someone you love. Imagine someone you love sitting next to you, and someone they love sitting next to them. Imagine that! This is what has happened and what we hope will continue. This is the perfect setting for a long running, sustainable gathering of likeminded, laid back kindred souls. John Hartford would’ve loved it.
2015 marked the best fest yet. A genre busting string fest. Due to noise restrictions suggested by the neighborhood thanks to circumstances beyond us, we had to start the stage shows later in the day and end them earlier in the evening. At first, we feared we’d never be able to offer up the number of stage acts and workshops as before, but you know what? 42 bands folks! 42 top notch artists came to play and we had workshops too! (YouTube Video courtesy of My Tall Tripod)
The big bonus was that most all of the bands set up jams all over the place. New talent was discovered and great friendships formed. This event typified the utopian dream of a brother and sisterhood of mankind. You could honestly feel the love.
This festival is about to become exclusive so watch for the opportunity to get your tickets or join the line to volunteer. This event already has more requests from acts to perform than we can possibly book. “The Most Laid Back Festival in America” is about to have bands tripping over themselves to play here. Why?
This event is about John Hartford and the music. Not money. Of course, bands have to be paid. Musicians incur great expenses just for gear, not to mention recording, promo, gas to travel and accommodations. It is expensive to be a full time musician, so yeh, we have to sell tickets, but they are affordable and early bird specials even make the deal more affordable.
Part of my job, is to work closely with our marketing/social media man, Danny Hootenanny Clark, all year round. I write and push press, pester FaceBook groups, run contests, I stay busy so it seems like the festival is no more over than here it is again, and I am just a cog in this wheel that is made up of several talented volunteers.
This event is about John Hartford and music. Any revenue goes right back into the next year’s festival. To quote fest co-promoter Tom Burkhart, “You know, it all boils down to, we like to party! We’re lucky enough to have a great big family of folks who play music and like to party, laid back!”
Party, to us, is enjoying the freedom we own, enjoying our space and respecting other's space. This is John Hartford and his music. We have achieved that. We have beaten the mega-fest money folks. We have won our race. Now, let us not challenge the armadillo and get run over by the truck!
Part of our goal in preserving the music, life and legacy of the late John Hartford is giving musicians an opportunity. Two festivals ago, there was a fall party which was also a talent search. Bean Blossom was booked last fall so the party didn't happen. Fortunately, Jason Jenkins, owner of Dogwood Camping Resort, Muhlenburg Co, KY, attended our festival and told us he’d like for us to do something there, so here we go. The Hartford Boogie is having it’s fall party/talent search third weekend of September.
Along with our headliners, ten band/artist contest finalists will give their best shot to be picked for a JHMF 2016 Main Stage booking contract and a $1000 first place prize!
This party is keeping with the spirit of JHMF by carrying on our laid back reputation. Check out the home page, www.johnhartfordmemfest.com for all of the details and a description of Dogwood Camping Resort, and it’s off the beaten path, pristine accomodations including a lake you can swim in and catch fish! and a very cool waterslide, so folks, it’s still a party. We are calling on all musicians to come on out and jam. You will be heard and considered for our big party next June in Bean Blossom, Indiana, The John Hartford Memorial Festival. Why? Read what some of our noted past performers have to say about performing at JHMF:
Vince Herman of Great American Taxi and Leftover Salmon fame says: “The John Hartford festival is a brand new kinda fest that feels like it's been around forever, it's that rooted. Tons of campground picking, always a great stage lineup and a promoter who does it all for love of his high school buddy John. Held at Bill Monroe's Bean Blossom campground, it's connecting a whole new generation to its sacred bluegrass grounds. Play on, brother John.”
Wes Duffy- Still Shine and two time JHMF Songwriting Contest finalist-
“What a magical experience to play on the same stage that so many spirits of influence have. And to help carry on and set the tone for future generations. so amazing to be at and play at such a magical place I feel like all the souls of past are there enjoying the new spirit in the air. I know when I pass on I will be back to visit!”
Wil Maring- "You can totally feel the proud ghosts of musical history (John Hartford included) feeding off the euphoric creative energy ... Roots fusion at its finest. It is a vibe like no other and I am honored to be a part of it.”
The Whipstitch Sallies-
"We look forward to JHMF every single year. Not only do we get to play at one of the most iconic spots in bluegrass history, but we get to be reunited with one big acoustic musical family. We've met incredible people from all over the world, and get to have amazing jam sessions with so many different people. Everyone should come join the big JHMF family!"
Daniel Pickle of Deep Fried Pickle Project-
Why is JHMF our favorite festival to play? John Hartford's spirit echoes through the trees and off the hills here. You see it in the smiles of old and new friends. You feel it in the vibrations of the music.
Being in a Jug Band like we are, we feel a kinship to John's silly side and his musical ingenuity. He could make music from very simple things, like a slap of a banjo, a tap of the toe and strange mumblings and rumblings bubbling up from his voice. We strive to be creative like he was, and you will find that same unorthodox attitude in so many of the acts that play JHMF.
Betse and Clarke (Betse Ellis and Clarke Wyatt)-
“Being at the JHMF is like going to a family reunion where we meet a bunch of cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents and godparents... We're connected through a family tree of music thanks to the legacy of John Hartford's music and soul. We feel the love and the meaning of our connections when we are on stage and off. The audience is super involved and the open, friendly camp picking is awesome!”
As a musician and songwriter, I, Ernie, feel the energy when all of the bands are making their music, on stage and in the campgrounds, and when it’s early on, before the music starts, I feel the Muse alive on this ground at Bean Blossom where so many musical icons have walked, talked and performed. It is a mind blowing wind of creativity to say the least.
Our Grand Master of Ceremonies, the honorable Sam Jackson had this to say about it, “First of all, got to pay respect to the Bill Monroe Music Park, the mecca of Bluegrass Music, so much history and tradition there. Never forget the importance that this property and this stage has played, such a major part of American Music. The most prestigious festival ground in the world, a reminder to keep in the back of your mind as you work this stage, not to be taken lightly. I have to say, of all the festivals I have ever worked regardless of location, this is by far the most laid back, the most enjoyable I have ever been a part of. Never since the start of this event have I heard any complaints from anyone, bands, fans, vendors, or the numerous volunteers. This event is truly in the John Hartford mindset, great for all involved whether working bands or audiences. It is truly an honor to be a part of what will soon become the most sought after festival to be a part of since music festivals began.”
Musicians, this is a call to you. We aren’t begging you to come, we are asking for you to come and experience this event. Become a part of it. Get a taste of it this fall at the Hartford Boogie. Come jam and let us hear you, and by all means, send us your promo and come on, bring someone you love! We’d be tickled to death to see you!